Never mind the 16 double faults, Kristina Mladenovic downed defending champion Garbine Muguruza 6-1 3-6 6-3, sending the Roland Garros crowd into raptures as their darling reached the quarter-finals of the French Open on Sunday. After a jittery opening set, Spanish fourth seed Muguruza rallied but 13th-seeded Frenchwoman Mladenovic perfectly played the key points in the decider to set up a meeting with either Venus Williams or Timea Bascinszky.
Mladenovic, who has been hampered by back problems, leads the tournament in terms of double faults, having served 40 of them since it started. Even though she won on Sunday, she added a big contribution to that total.
‘Kiki, Kiki!” yelled the crowd as Mladenovic, a player born of Serbian parents and who speaks good English and cheers herself up in Italian, negotiated her way through the tricky fourth-round match.
“I love you, too,” she told the chanting crowd after the win on a sunbathed Court Suzanne Lenglen. She paused.
“You make me cry,” she continued. “Let me try to speak. It’s a last-16 match against the defending champion. Big match, which I was waiting for.
“It’s not perfect, there are little problems but I fight as I can. I served 35 doubles but it’s good because you give me so much strength,” added Mladenovic, who has been tipped as one of the tournament favourites after reaching the finals in Stuttgart and Madrid on clay this season.
With Alize Cornet taking on Caroline Garcia in the fourth round on Monday, two Frenchwomen will be in the last eight for the first time since 1994.
That year, Mary Pierce, the last Frenchwoman to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup in 2000, reached the final, losing to Spaniard Arantxa Sanchez.